War of the Spirits

Saphira is the future leader of the isolated mountain village Natallian. However, just as she left to being her training, an incident takes place in the naboring town that changes her course of life forever

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9. Chapter 9

As Saphira continued her way up the mountain trail, a foul odor began to surround her. She had never smelled anything like it before, but it made her feel sick. Flarenix also made a disgusted sound in her head, which didn't help Saphira much. She looked down at the path to see if there were any tracks that might have been left behind Dragon Scale. She noticed some footprints, as well as a long trail of tracks of something she had never seen before.

"This seems like the 'wheels' of that vehicle they used back in Milline," Flarenix commented. Saphira didn't recognize it, though she didn't get a good enough look at it. Flarenix, however, did, during her little show. Saphira looked up again and continued upwards.

"Hurry up, you bunch of slackers! The Brain is already upset about the situation at Castrelia, we don't need him to be upset about our delay as well!"A loud yell made her stop. It didn't sound too close, but she knew that they were on the path somewhere up ahead. She began to walk a lot more cautiously, especially as the voice yelled once again. "Not only that, but Shade is upset as well! And I don't want complaints from both because of you idiots!"

'Shade? The one from the Prince's party two months ago? And it seems that he and this Brain person are the highest authorities of Dragon Scale.' She thought to herself as she continued. As she made her way up a few more meters, she could hear the loud steps of a large amount of people up ahead. She crouched down and when she turned the corner, she saw the members as well as another large vehicle that had stopped in the middle of the road. There were people everywhere, and no chance for her to sneak by them.

"Saphira, there's a narrow path a bit further down. You should be able to get higher up from there," Flarenix told her, Saphira nodding as she made her way back down. Just like her Spirit said, there was a narrow and ragged path that seemed to lead to the path further ahead of them. She moved the bag from her shoulder and held it in front of her as she was barely small enough to get through on  her own. She slowly made her way through, trying to not get hurt by the rocks that stuck out from the wall. When she came near the exit, she could hear voices. She wasn't able to make out exactly what they were saying, but she knew she hadn't left Dragon Scale behind. She stopped before she got too close, in case they were able to see her from the exit.

"I still don't understand why we decided to stay on this mountain. Sure, we're out of sight, but it's only a matter of time before they realize where we've been holding up," someone said, Saphira feeling her heart beat faster. She could faintly smell what she thought was alcohol, so she thought that they were on break or something. A shadow passed over her as someone walked past the exit, which made her tense up. If she was caught here, she would be in a lot of trouble.

"The Brain believes that us being on this mountain will give us a good advantage against all of those who stand in our way," another voice said. Saphira let out a small sigh, feeling a bit more at ease. She was also curious about the one the other voice mentioned, 'the Brain'. She assumed it was just a nickname of some kind, but it seemed like this 'Brain' was the leader of Dragon Scale. "And stop drinking that stuff. We're on duty," She began to move a bit closer to the exit. She saw that the guards were to her left, and they had their backs turned to her. Saphira began to exit the path and began to make her way up the trail once again. She walked very slowly and kept her senses sharp, as she had no idea when she might encounter someone.

As she continued, she began so see more and more manmade devices along the trail. From more of those metal vehicles to weaponry. After turning a corner, she saw a large building surrounded by metal walls. There were even more people inside, and they were all armed and clothed in armor. Saphira carefully made her way in, as there were no one at the entrance. She kept herself in the shadows, and noticed a large group of weapons on the side. They were all engraved with a design of some kind of animal.

'These are…Rektos? But there are so many.' Saphira thought to herself. She studied the design a bit closer, and soon noticed that all of them had the same design. She let out a small sigh of relief, knowing that they were made by only one person. But that still wasn't a good thing. 'If one Aolis made all of these, and anyone can use them, then the Aolis in question is incredibly strong.' Saphira thought, memorizing the design so she could recognize the Spirit if she saw it.

"Don't forget why we're actually here," Flarenix reminded her. Saphira gave her a quick nod before she tried to find an entrance to the large building. If Marielle was held anywhere, it had to be in there. She put her cloak on and hid her bag so it wouldn't be found while she was busy finding Marielle. She looked up and down the building for any entry point, an open window quite a bit up the only one she could find. She looked around for any soldiers that could see her before she ran over to the building and began to work her way up it.

"I demand that you let me go this instant! How dare you treat someone of my status in such a despicable manner!" Mariallie's voice came from the window, which was rather lucky for Saphira. She began to move a bit faster to get to the window so she could see in.

"We're so, so sorry, little kitty Princess. Maybe you would rather have us tie you up in a fancy red rope as you continue your new role as hostage while we escalate this war," A new voice came from the window, and Saphira stopped before she could see into the room itself. Just in case one the guards was right by the window. "All the blood, all the riots. The more chaotic it becomes, the more it will serve us. And we can finally make the crown pay for our suffering," Saphira didn't understand how the riots and chaos would serve Dragon Scale. Was there more to their plan that she didn't know?

"Even if you intend to keep me here, you should treat the next heir of Katil with some respect. Or I will not play along with your little game," Mariallie answered, Saphira unsure if she actually understood what kind of situation she was in. She tugged her hood a bit, just to make sure her face wasn't seen, and carefully lifted herself up so she could see inside. Luckily, there wasn't anyone standing by the window. There was only the heir and three men in the room. Two of them stood by the door, while one was crouched down in front of Mariallie. From where she was, she couldn't see any special details on the man in front of Marielle.

"Oh little kitten, you think you have a choice? You won't be leaving this room anytime soon. And if you try to get out by yourself," He pulled out a knife from behind him and waved it playfully in front of Mariallie. "I'd be more than happy to end your life and use your corpse as a scratching post for my little pets," Saphira clenched her fist and tried to keep herself from getting her out now. Mariallie stayed quiet as the man got up and left the room, the other two following after him. Saphira heard the sound of the door locking, which meant that she could enter the room now.

'I'd rather use Polis to teleport her away without her knowing I was here, but I've already used it on a large group of people today. If I use it, I'd be defenseless.' She thought as she prepared to climb in through the mirror.

"Be careful, they're still right outside the door. So make sure she doesn't yell to loudly when you enter," Flarenix advised her, Saphira nodding as she climbed through the window. A very high pitch sound came from where Mariallie sat, Saphira first thinking it was a mouse. When she looked around, though, there wasn't any sign of a mouse.

'That's an odd sound form someone who confidently talking back to someone who wanted to kill her.' She thought. Mariallie noticed her and she instantly gave her an angry glare.

"You! You are the one that ruined my perfect wedding plan! How dare you show yourself in front of me and-!" Saphira quickly went over and covered her mouth as she began to yell at her. She stayed silent for a bit in case the guard outside heard them, but it seems like the door was more sound proof than she first thought. Mariallie kept talking into her hand, Saphira sighing.

"Just shut up for a bit, would you? If you make so much noise, they'll come in and we'll both be dead," Saphira warned Mariallie, who actually did stay quiet. Saphira moved her hand away and instead went to check the lock on the door. There was a faint, purple glow of Leot emanating from the lock, which meant that one of the men who were in here earlier was an Aolis. The glow was formed to look like a rose, which meant that the Aolis had a Nature Spirit. Saphira placed her hand in front of the lock and created a small flame that surrounded the lock in an attempt to cancel it out without anyone noticing. She had learned that certain Spirit cancel each other out, and Fire and Nature were two such Spirits.

"For what purpose did you come here? To destroy the dream of another young woman," Mariallie commented, Saphira almost using too much power. She moved her hand away and stopped for a few seconds, just to make sure she didn't accidentally catch someone's attention because of the chatty Mariallie. Once she felt a bit calmer, she placed her hand back and began again.

"No, I came here to make sure you stay alive. That man from before said the same thing, your capture will escalate this war to a dangerous level. And thousands of innocent lives will die as a result," she said, the power around the lock slowly fading. "And what I did a week ago was for the same reason,"

"What could possibly be so gruesome about a perfect couple getting married?" Mariallie asked, Saphira getting close to unlocking the door. She was also a bit surprised that Mariallie couldn't figure it out by herself.

"You are aware of the conditions set by your marriage, right?" she asked first, just to be sure she really did know. Mariallie nodding. "Then you know they were only after the weapons and the Aolis. Not you or your fantasies," Saphira stated, Marielle just huffing. Just then, the power locking the door disappeared and the door opened. "Come on, let's get out of here," Marielle reluctantly nodded, Saphira ignoring it as she carefully stepped out and looked around. Surprisingly, the guards were no longer there.

'Something must've happened.' Saphira thought as she exited the room and carefully made her way down the hall, Mariallie following close behind. As they continued down the hallway, the sound of an explosion echoed around them, both of them stopping.

"What was that?" Mariallie asked, Saphira not so sure herself. She went to the closest window to see if she could see what's going on. A large vehicle had stopped by the path that lead down the mountain, a lot of smoke emanating from it.

"I assume it was that," Saphira said as Mariallie came to stand behind her. The sound of footsteps quickly coming towards them alerted Saphira and quickly pulled Mariallie with her behind one of the corners. The sound slowly got closer, Saphira not risking peeking in case they were right around the corner.

"Man, that tank was completely useless. What the hell happened to it anyway," a male voice said, Saphira assuming that the 'tank' he referred to was the vehicle that had been destroyed.

"A boulder fell from higher up the mountain and landed on top of while we were refueling it. The Brain is not going to be pleased with this. This is the third time this has happened since we established our base here," another voice explained, a new set of footsteps walking in a completely different pace than the ones she heard before.

"You are correct, I am very unpleased with this predicament.," The voice belonged to the man that spoke to Marielle before, but this time it sounded more sinister, sending chills down Saphira's back. Acting against her better judgment, she carefully moved so she could see if she could get a better look at him this time. The first thing that caught her attention was how unscathed he was. There wasn't a single scratch on his arms or face, nor was there a single torn or dirt on his clothes and cape. She got a quick look at his emerald eyes as he glared at one of the soldiers in front of him.

"Our most sincere apologies, sir. There was another rockslide and it landed on top of the tank as we tried to refuel it. We're sorry for the inconvenience, sir," all of them said in perfect unison, Saphira honestly impressed. She moved back a little bit so she would have an easier time hiding completely if they ever got suspicious. She also had to keep an eye on Mariallie to make sure she didn’t get any funny ideas. Just as she looked over at Mariallie, a chilling scream rang through the halls of the building, making both of the jump. Saphira quickly looked back to the soldiers and was shocked by what she saw. A dark, purple vine of some kind, almost to the point of it being black, had pierced one of the soldiers straight through the heart. The purple color reminded her of the Leot around the lock, which mean that this was the Aolis that put it there. Saphira tried to think of a way for her and Mariallie to get down from here, but the only way that came to mind was the window she entered. And that wasn't a good exit point for someone like Mariallie. She looked around a bit more and noticed another window that was unguarded. She couldn't think of anything else at this point.

"We have to climb down. You can get there on your own, right?" Saphira told her, Mariallie still trembling from the scream before. "Listen closely. once you're out the window, use your Spirit to help you get down. Once down, there's a small cave along the main path that will lead you further down where there aren't many guards. Once you get down the mountain, head North and you'll reach Katil. Understood?"

"Yes, I think so," Mariallie said as she quietly made her way to the window. Saphira looked past the corner to make sure none of the surviving soldiers noticed her. Saphira created a small sphere of fire in her hand as she made sure Mariallie had made her way out of the window. Satisfied that she was out, Saphira threw the sphere at the soldiers and it exploded, sending flames everywhere. Once the explosion had started, she dashed past them and made her way down the hall where she saw the soldiers come from in the first place. She saw some other soldiers coming towards the explosion, Saphira quickening her pace as she pushed her way past them.

"Stop her!" one of them yelled, Saphira running and knocked out anyone who tried to stop her. She turned a corner and ended up in a dead end. She could hear the soldier closing in on her from behind, so she was completely trapped. She looked back at the wall and sprinted towards and up it. She used it to helped her back flip, and landed with her knees on one of the soldier's shoulders and threw him backwards. As soon as she landed on the ground, she used her leg to sweep the others so they all fell on the ground. A few of them stood and tried to attack her, but Saphira swiftly dodged their attacks and used her hand to hit them on the back of their necks to knock them out. She was able to take out most of them, but a few more came and stood in her way so she couldn't go anywhere.

"So you're the young hero clad in a cloak. From what I've heard, you've been quite the vermin in our plans a few months back," The Brain walked into view and stood in front of the other soldiers. "I've heard all about you from my men, one in particular. And I think he's quite eager to see you again," Saphira raised a brow at him, before she felt a presence above of her. She jumped backwards towards the wall as Shade came down from the roof.

"And here I thought you had given up since you didn't show yourself since the incident in Castrelia. Now I can personally send you to the grave, like I should have back then," he said as he held his sword towards her. Saphira drew her own katana and shifted into a defensive position, the Leot she placed in it during her training lighting up around the blade.

"You caught me by surprise back then, but you won't this time," she said, Elliot moving backwards a bit. She wasn't sure what he was planning, but she kept her senses sharp and waited for an attack. She felt the presence of Leot underneath her feet, and looked down to see the shadows of the soldiers moving strangely. She stepped back a bit, a blade of shadow emerging from the ground and slashing towards her. She quickly ducked to avoid it tried to not get herself trapped in the dead end.

"You shouldn't get too cocky, little Hero. you're trying to take care of something that is way out of your league," Shade told her as she evaded the attacks. Saphira knew she wouldn't be able to get out if she got trapped now. She narrowed her eyes and used her katana to slash at the shadow blade, her Leot overpowering the shadow. As she struck the shadow, she clenched the hilt harder and flames erupted from the metal, temporarily distracting them from her. Taking the chance, she ran past the soldiers and made her way towards the open window. She just hoped Mariallie had been able to make her way down the mountain by this time. Her vision began to blur slightly, Saphira shaking her head in an attempt to get rid of it.

"You've already used a lot of your power within a small period of time. Try to hold off on using any extra if you can," Flarenix commented, Saphira nodding as she jumped out the window Mariallie had gone down. She stabbed her katana along the side of the building to slow her descent, the Leot around the blade not using any of her energy and melted the building as she fell. Once on the ground, she began to head towards the exit of the base. But a wall of shadow erupted from the grown and completely blocked her off.

"Well, that was a nifty trick. I didn’t think you had a Rektos," Saphira turned to see Shade walking towards her and the Brain behind him. "And from your level of control, you could be mistaken as one of the Guardians," Brain continued, Saphira confused by the 'Guardians'. She had never heard of any Humans being Guardians.

"Sir, with all due respect, I don't think it is necessary for you to get involved in this fight. She may be strong, but not worth your time," Shade told him, Saphira glaring at him. She also made sure to keep an eye the shadow wall behind her as well. She knew Shade was strong, so he could attack her at any time.

"Very well, I will leave the rest to you then, Shade. I suppose letting the enemy learn about my abilities might be rather disadvantageous," the Brain said as he made his way back into the building. "Make sure you give me a detailed report on her strengths and abilities later in case she gets out alive," Shade gave him a slight as he turned back to face Saphira. Saphira could hear footsteps from behind the wall, assuming that more soldiers came to where they were. Knowing what Shade had planned, she positioned herself sideways and prepared herself t defend from both Shade and the ones behind the wall.

"Well, you're smarter than I thought," Shade smirked as he snapped his fingers to make the wall disappear. The soldiers quickly rushed at her, Saphira focusing more on them than on Shade at this point. She was able to easily take care of them, but the sheer number of them made it tiring for her. She continued to avoid their attacks, and sensed a something attacking her from behind. She ducked and saw Shade striking at her as well now.

'This isn't a good situation I'm in.' She thought as she tried to think of a way to get out of the attacks. Shade continued to strike at her, Saphira slightly losing her balance and rolled to avoid the attacks. as she rolled, she noticed a small platform above her. 'It's my best chance.' She got back on her feet and used the heads of the soldiers to get out away and began climbing up the mountain. She heard Shade yell something, but she couldn't hear him clear enough to know what he was saying. As she got onto the platform, she saw a large boulder near the edge. Acting fast, she ran of to it and pushed it off and sent it rolling down towards the soldiers. It was easier than she expected, but it was still dangerous. She heard screams in agony as the stone rolled down, Saphira looking down. Over half of the soldiers were taken out by the boulder, but none of them were killed thankfully. Her gaze moved to look for Shade, but he wasn't where she last saw him. She heard someone behind her and quickly rolled to the side to avoid his attack.

"Guess I underestimated you more than I originally thought. To think you actually thought of using that boulder to your advantage," he said as Saphira got on her feet again. "Looks like someone heard about our recent rock troubles," He quickly swung his blade at her, Saphira holding her katana to block his attack. The force behind the attack was stronger than she expected, the cold metal of his blade slightly touching her skin. His blade was also not affected by the Leot around her own, so it was possible he also had a Rektos. Unfortunately, she didn't have time to study his blade to see.

"You seem more serious now than you were before. And I thought your shadow weapon was bad," she taunted him, Shade not letting up in the least. He pulled back and swung at her again. Saphira dodged his attack and swung at his stomach. But he evaded it and quickly prepared to strike at her again. The two of them continued to clash as the sound of their metal clashing against each other echoed.

'He's stronger than I expected. I thought that he wasn't as good with normal weaponry since he used his Spirits power in the beginning, but that was definitely wrong. I really shouldn't have underestimated him.' Saphira thought to herself as she tried to keep up with his fast movements and strong attacks, but he was physically stronger than her so it took a lot of energy just to block his attacks. And with each attack, the force behind them got stronger. He swung at her from above and Saphira blocking his attack once again. But Saphira was already exhausted from blocking all of his other attacks, so she lost the strength in her legs and fell to her knee. She tried to force him off her with every bit of strength, just barely able to lift him off her and get some distance between them.

"You're a lot more skilled than I gave you credit for. You're the first rookie that has ever lasted this long against me," he complimented her as he got ready for another attack. "Though I'd prefer to look my opponents in the eye when I kill them. Maybe I'll pull your hood off when you strike you down," Saphira didn't relax, even though Shade seemed relatively calm right now. Maybe because he was so sure he would kill her right now.

Just as she was expecting him to attack, a loud explosion came from behind Shade. They both shifted their attention to it and noticed that smoke was emanating from the opposite side of where she and Shade were now. Saphira wasn't sure who it could be, as neither the Royal Army nor Shadow Knight were aware of this location. Two shadowy figures moved above them, and two men landed between her and Shade. Saphira's eyes widen when she saw who they were; Jim and Tim, the mischievous twins and the gatekeepers of Natallian. They had also gained the nickname 'Twin Wolves of the Mountain' since both of their Spirits were canines.

"You think you can just come onto our mountain and make a base like this right under our noses, Dragon Scale?" Jim said. It was almost impossible to tell the difference between the two as they were nearly identical, but Saphira was one of the few who could. Saphira held her blade still, not wanting to risk being attacked by them suddenly. Though she didn't want to hurt them.

"Tch, seems like you people are still upset with our little 'suggestion'," Shade commented, who seemed to have let his guard down. "I suppose this means you're not accepting the Brain's offer,"

"Not in a million years, pal," Tim answered, a chuckle from both of them. "We know about this stupid war and the consequences that comes with it. We want to stop it, not fuel it. Just like always," they said, Saphira still surprised that her father was OK with being involved in this. Not only that, but the last part still confused her. Why were they talking like the village was involved in something similar to this in the past? "Now, are the two of you going to stop fighting? A fight between two Aolis will put our village in danger," Saphira didn't know she was so close to her village, as she had only gone down one path. But since the two of them were here, she should've assumed that. Shade only closed his eyes as he simply jumped from the platform and disappeared into the shadows. Saphira sighed and sheathed her blade. "Are you going to disappear as well?"

"Honestly, aren't you two always boasting about how easily you can smell me?" Saphira asked them, both of them looking at her confused. Had they really not noticed who she was yet? She let out a small sigh and pulled the hood off. As soon as the hood was off, they pounced her and all three of them fell to the ground.

"Saph, you're alright! We heard what happened in Sektories and thought you ended up dead!" they cried in perfect sync, which made it harder to hear the difference in the two. Saphira smiled slightly at their behavior, as they were acting like little puppies.

"You should know it takes a lot to keep me down. And you should try to act more serious. You're the gatekeepers for crying out loud," she scolded them, though her tone was soft instead of stern. She was honestly glad to see them. Even if she had only been gone for a week, she was glad to be around someone she trusted finally.

"In any case, it's good to see you again. Let's get back to the village before things get too hectic around her. An explosion like that won't go unnoticed," Jim said, Saphira unsure if there was anyone still able to examine an explosion at this point. She decided to just stay quiet s the three of them climbed up the mountain.

"Are you sure about going back to the village now? We still haven't figured out why they made their base here. We also don't know what Shadow Knight is doing right now. You might not be able to leave the village for a while," Flarenix asked, Saphira hesitated for a bit before she answered.

'It's fine. Besides, I wanted to check something while I'm there.' She though, Jim and Tim yelling at her to move faster. She did as she was told as the three made their way up to Natallian.

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